The Walt Disney Company is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and Wondrous Journeys is the well-deserved birthday present that Disney is giving to its fans.
Disneyland's newest nighttime spectacular delights, just like a thoughtful gift. The park's tribute to 100 years of Disney animation delivers both the callbacks to popular franchises from across the company's history that fans want as well as the sweeping emotional arc that made these characters so beloved in the first place.
We talked about Wondrous Journeys' arc earlier today with the show's creators [see Disneyland Looks to Take Animation Fans on 'Wondrous Journeys'], and those words were not empty hype. Wondrous Journeys' projections play on Sleeping Beauty Castle, the It's a Small World facade, the Rivers of America, and - most impressively - Main Street USA. This might be Disneyland's most visually impressive projection show yet, exceeding the standard set by the 60th anniversary's Disneyland Forever.
But that's to be expected of a show honoring 100 years of animation excellence. Anything seeking to do that had better look good. And Wondrous Journeys does - even the ugly moments. Heck, especially the ugly moments, when doubt and demons threaten to bring our heroes' journey to an end, the animation that makes Main Street and the castle seemingly crumble before us stuns with its visual power. Wondrous Journeys does not need a narrator to tell us about the impact of Disney animation. It shows us that power - the same way that Disney has been for a century - by drawing us the pictures.
And throwing the Blue Fairy and Baymax to fly across the night sky above Sleeping Beauty Castle doesn't hurt, either. Watch the full show here.
It seems that whenever a Disney park mounts two new nighttime spectaculars to celebrate the same anniversary, one necessarily exceeds the other. It was that way with Disneyland Forever and the all-but-forgotten World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney. And so it was at Walt Disney World last year with Disney Enchantment and Epcot's Harmonious. While last night's World of Color - One was a fine enough show to wrap up a Disney day, it's Wondrous Journeys that left me counting the hours and days until I could come back and watch it again.
Just like the best birthday presents, you can't stop wanting to play with them.
Don't miss our previous coverage of the new stuff at the Disneyland Resort this year:
And for discounted multi-day tickets to the parks during the celebration, including a three-day ticket deal for local residents, please visit our partner's Disneyland tickets page.
Is there a reason that Disneyland doesn’t do fireworks every night like Florida does? I know the proximity to the surrounding area makes it more susceptible to weather-related cancellations, but it seems weird that they don’t actively schedule them each day.
California air-quality rules. Disneyland is grandfathered in and allowed way more pyro nights that anyone else in the state, but still can't go every night.
FWIW, Florida's flat terrain allows air pollution to dissipate out over the entire Atlantic Ocean, while California's is trapped by surrounding mountains, making us have to breathe it. That's why California has to be a lot more careful about what it puts into the air.
Disney actually developed (or licensed, I don't remember) a new way to launch pyro, using compressed air, to help limit the air pollution from its fireworks shows.
Local air pollution and fire control rules also are why Disneyland cannot launch fireworks on windy nights.
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